Michael Williams, the Texas education commissioner, said some of the biggest school districts in the state are showing interest in a new state-initiated teacher evaluation program but teacher’s unions fear the pilot program will involve high-stakes test scores.
As per an agreement between the U.S. Department of Education and the Texas Education Agency, Williams was to develop a statewide pilot program for evaluating teachers in order to opt out of the federal, No Child Left Behind program. Since that announcement in December of 2013, Williams said dozens of Texas schools have shown interest in signing up.
"We have 71 districts that are interested and participating and we have meetings with those superintendents in a couple weeks here in Austin to talk about it as we go forward," Williams said.
While school administrators like the program, teachers are still reluctant because of the possibility that high-stakes test scores could be a part of the process.
"Growth ought to be a part of how we evaluate our teachers and we’re talking about student growth not absolute achievement," WIlliams said. "And we can talk about how much growth and what other variables should be included, but ask the teacher’s associations to slow down and let us finish this product."
Williams said the evaluation will likely consist of student growth, principal and peer evaluations and possibility student and parental surveys of teachers. Williams is required to develop the program by May and have at least 40 school districts participating.